The room was large, though obviously not as large as the huge chamber we had visited before. The far wall was about one hundred fifty feet away, and the room was equally as wide. We had entered through a doorway in the middle of the wall, and there were no other entryways or exits visible. The room was well lit, though I could not determine the source of the light. Indeed, it seemed that the light came from everywhere, as though light were a thing that could flow around solid objects like the air. The walls, floor, and ceiling were smooth and dull grey, as were the fixtures in the room’s center—four large geometric shapes.
As the three of us slowly walked into the room, we were drawn toward the four geometric shapes in the center of the floor. They were each about the same size, perhaps twelve feet across. Closest to us was a sphere. The others were a cube, a pyramid, and a dodecahedron.
“What are these for, do you suppose?” I wondered aloud.
“Perhaps they are not for anything,” growled Malagor.
“Why are you so grumpy?” I asked. “Still hungry?”
He growled again in confirmation.
“This is unlike anything I have ever seen relating to the Orlons,” said Norar Remontar. “The lighting has an interesting quality.”
He reached up and laid a hand upon the surface of the sphere, and a large portion of the wall to our left suddenly became a huge picture screen. A forty-foot image of a great plain appeared, with tall grass billowing in the wind like waves on the surface of the ocean. Here and there, grazing herbivores roamed in search of a particularly interesting bit of flora. To the far right of the image, two stummada sat looking around lazily. At their feet were the remains of a large animal.
“Wow,” I said.
“This is most definitely not an Orlon site,” reiterated the Amatharian. “Their technology never reached anywhere near this level.”
“I wonder what else these shapes do.” I stepped around him to the cube.
I placed my hand on the surface, which felt warm to the touch, and marveled as another giant image appeared opposite the first. This image was of a beautiful green field, obviously cultivated. In the distance, to the right was the edge of a great forest of extremely tall coniferous evergreen trees. At about the same distance but to the left, one could see the edge of a strange and marvelous city. It was made up of ivory colored buildings with reddish roofs— each roof topped by a carved animal figure. In the foreground, as well as around the city, were the inhabitants.
The people living in the strange city, playing around it, and working in the fields looked remarkably like a child’s teddy bear. They were covered with light brown fur, had very large round ears on the top of their heads, and large expressive eyes above their small snouts. They came in a variety of sizes, probably males, females, and children. Some of the small ones seemed to be playing tag just outside the city. Larger ones were working in the field, pulling up green vegetables of some kind. Still others, of several sizes, were busy within the confines of the city, though just what they were doing was impossible to tell at the present magnification on the image. They were probably doing the same things that humans on Earth did in their own cities.
“I do not know that race of people,” said Malagor. “I wonder who they are, and where in Ecos that place is.”
“Or when,” I offered. “For all we know, that may be a stored image of the ancient Orlons, or even their ancestors.”
Norar Remontar and I were both fascinated by the images, and we began moving around the shapes, placing our hands here and there and watching the scenes produced on the three blank walls of the room. Most were of wild places with nothing but plant life and an occasional animal, though the locale of each was noticeably different. There were scenes of deserts, of forests, and of jungles. Finally I placed a hand upon the sphere at a point as yet untouched and a picture of a hillside replaced an earlier scene on the wall opposite the door. Standing on the hillside were two Amatharian men.
“Bentar Hissendar!” shouted Norar Remontar.
“You know him?” I asked the obvious.
“He is a friend and kinsman of mine,” the Amatharian replied. “He works within my uncle’s trading group.”